PPP and Civitas have now both shown Richard Burr trailing in a hypothetical contest against Roy Cooper.
Burr is struggling with a couple of key demographics that he must perform well with if he's going to get reelected.
The first is conservative Democrats, the sort of folks who throughout the years elected Democratic Governors and legislators while also consistently voting for Republican Presidential candidates and Jesse Helms. With the state's significant Democratic registration advantage, Burr will need to win over a lot of those voters to get reelected. However, his approval rating with that group right now is only 30% in our latest poll. By comparison 67% of them like the job Barack Obama's doing, even though it's likely many of them crossed over to vote for John McCain last fall. That standing is not going to be good enough to get Burr reelected, particularly if Roy Cooper is the nominee. Our polling back in December found that Cooper would likely pull in more of the white Democratic vote in the state than either Obama, Bev Perdue, or Kay Hagan did in 2008.
The second group Burr is struggling to gain the level of support he needs from is moderate Republicans. His approval rating with them is 49%. Burr can't even start to think about pulling over moderate Democrats until he gets the ones within his own party in line, and for now it appears he has some work to do with a majority of those voters. Burr's overall approval from moderates across the party spectrum is just 26%, and given that those folks more often than not are going to hold the balance of power in North Carolina elections he'll have to improve that standing a lot.
It's a little more than 19 months until November 2010 and certainly Burr's position could be solidified by then. But right now he looks to be one of the two or three most vulnerable incumbents in the country.